What is a microfracture?
Healthy articular cartilage performs an important function in the knee joint. It has a smooth surface which allows our bones to glide over each other without friction. When this cartilage gets damaged, either through injury or disease, it does not heal and can develop a rough surface. This is known as a chondral injury and symptoms of this type include intermittent swelling, pain, a snapping noise in motion or knee locking. Sometimes, the underlying bone can become exposed.
Microfracture is a surgical procedure that has been developed to help repair damaged cartilage around the body. It is most often performed in the knee joint.
How is it treated?
Performed arthroscopically using small incisions, microfracture works by using sharp tools to create tiny fractures in the exposed bone. Distressing the bone in this way encourages a healing reaction that stimulates new tissue growth. This tissue matures into a new type of scar-cartilage that fills in the damaged area. Knee pain and swelling can dissipate, and mobility and function is usually restored.
How long will it last?
Recovery from microfracture surgery can take some time. Patients must use crutches for up to 6 weeks, keeping all weight off the affected knee. In some cases, a knee brace is useful to support and protect the joint during the recovery process. It can take up to 6 months for the knee pain and function to significantly improve after surgery, with a return to sport possible between 6-9 months after the procedure. Appropriate activities after microfracture would be discussed with your surgeon.
Other knee surgeries and procedures
Total knee replacement approaches